Condoms are one of the easiest and most affordable ways to preventing unwanted pregnancy, as are birth control pills and IUDs, depending on who you ask. (Here’s How to Find the Best Birth Control for You.) But now, thanks to science, there may be another way to stop sperm in its track. Research recently published in Science Translational Medicine found that a sticky substance similar to the ones that actually help fertilize your eggs can be used to catch sperm before they reach any of your own eggs.
Jurrien Dean, M.D., study co-author and chief of the Laboratory of Cellular and Developmental Biology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, and his staff looked at this specific effect on mice by inserting synthetically-coated beads made from peptides (similar to your eggs, but essentially spy-like decoys) into the uteruses of female mice. They found that the sticky coating actually prevented pregnancy. What’s more, it might not be a one-cycle-only deal: the research team believes that it can last for multiple ovulations.
This is a big deal for a variety of reasons. Hormonal birth controls—like the pill and IUD—can have major side effects when it comes to your mood and body. Think: weight gain, mood swings, well, you know the drill. (These are The Most Common Birth Control Side Effects.) Likewise, it could eliminate the need for condoms for couples who aren’t ready for a child in otherwise monogamous relationships. (Reminder: this new discovery is not a replacement to stop the spread of STDs.)
But with so many outstanding questions—for one, if this could work of humans and not mice—these study results need to be taken with a grain of salt. Clearly science needs a while (and a lot more experimentation) before we can rely on insertion of a sticky coating to stop from getting knocked up. Here’s to hoping, though. (Psst… This is Why Family Planning Matters When Choosing an IUD.)